We have worked with the Department for Education (DfE) since 2018 on a range of campaigns. Our in-depth understanding of the education ecosystem has made it possible for us to apply our thinking to diverse briefs such as: promoting the Teaching Vacancies website to schools and teachers, supporting students and parents via the Exam Results Helpline, driving parity of esteem for T Levels in the post 16 landscape and supporting the DfE with the roll out of remote learning.

The Exam Results Helpline campaign

Objectives

For many young people and their parents exam results can represent moments of relief and celebration. For others, they signify disappointment, distress and confusion. Many feel they are making decisions in this crucial period which could impact the shape of their entire lives. For the Exam Results Helpline (ERH), we devised a campaign which raised the awareness of the helpline and informed target audiences about how to access it. We were enlisted with the task of generating a 10% uplift in visitors to the National Careers Service website and increasing the calls to the ERH year on year, as previous years had recorded a fall in numbers.

Audience

  • We identified, using our proprietary social media analysis methodology, Mapper360® that we needed to reach audiences who had received their exam results.
  • We also needed to reach audiences who support them, including parents and caregivers to wider family members and teachers.

Strategy

Our strategy involved understanding the mind-set of our target audiences to drive decisive action by:

  • Weaving a tone of trust and reliability through all content. We spoke the target audience’s language.
  • Reaching the younger audience in their natural habitat at the right time. 16-24 year olds get their news from ‘social media posts’ rather than from news organisations. Our research showed that there was a spike of ERH mentions at around 10am on both the mornings of the announcements of GCSE and A Level results.
  • Taking the story to the nationals. Parents of 15-18 year olds are still likely to turn to traditional outlets for their news. We identified the key target media titles and influencers for reaching ‘decision gatekeepers’.
  • Working with a mental health expert partner to lend an authoritative voice to the campaign. The partner offered expert guidance on how to tackle stress whilst waiting for and receiving exam results.

Implementation

  • Creating a suite of content for partners and media. We created an informative video fronted by careers advisers offering a step-by-step guide on how to approach results day, how to contact the ERH and what to expect.
  • Engaging with key partners. We ensured wellbeing support was the golden thread through our activity, lining ERH up as an obvious aid to ensure that students felt calm and in control. We chose Mental Health UK as a main partner and worked with its team to devise top tips on managing emotions for good mental health, selling these in to media as features content.
  • Creating a robust media outreach plan. We devised a forward planning pitch and press note plus real-time monitoring of ‘exam season’ news to ensure inclusion of ERH messaging. To support our features outreach, we created written content, which we tailored for individual media outlets.

Score/evaluation

  • Our creative content landed well with stakeholders.
  • Our PR strategy drove 165 pieces of coverage including nationals like Sky News Radio, Sky Sunrise, and Daily Telegraph. In total we over delivered on our agreed KPIs by 256%
  • The campaign saw calls to ERH go up by 8% on results day (calls had fallen by 8% year on year over the past five years).
  • Website hits were up by almost 10% compared to the previous year.